Located in the cool, mountain climes of Central Mexico, the cobbled streets of Guanajuato are a world away from the chaos of Mexico City or the beaches of the Riviera Maya.
Three days in Guanajuato will see you immersed in the Mexican city’s cultural and historic establishments as you explore colonial streets and uncover colorful alleyways. You can explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city on a musical walking tour, take a funicular to the summit of this old mining settlement’s best viewpoint for an unbeatable panoramic, and visit museum’s dedicated to artists and Mexican heroes.
And that’s just the beginning of our three-day Guanajuato itinerary, so keep reading to discover more!
Best Time to Visit Guanajuato
Guanajuato is located in the cool and predominantly dry highlands of Central Mexico. For travelers, that means that its pleasant temperatures make for a great city break destination almost any time of the year.
Temperatures are highest in the summer months, of course, with June, July, and August being the hottest time of the year to visit, with highs of 30°C (86°F). Summer is also when the most rainfall is seen, but it’s rarely enough to ruin a vacation!
The best time to visit Guanajuato, though, is in the winter, when temperatures are cool and there’s almost no chance of rain. December, January, and February are always the busiest months in Guanajuato, as is the case all over Mexico, but that’s because weather-wise, it’s an unbeatable time to visit.
How to Get Around Guanajuato
Guanajuato’s city center is a compact place to visit, and you’ll quickly find that the best way to get around the central areas is simply by walking. In fact, much of the Guanajuato is pedestrianized, with traffic being diverted beneath the streets; so grab yourself a map, and explore the maze of alleyways and narrow streets on foot.
To get further afield – to the main bus terminal or to the attractions in the nearby hills – it’s easy to hail a taxi in the city center. Taxis in Guanajuato are considered safe, and they are cost-effective. Guanajuato has a dedicated bus network, too, with fares costing as little as five Mexican pesos a ride.
Where to Stay in Guanajuato
If you’re wondering where to stay in Guanajuato, then look no further than one of the many hotels within the historic city center. There are accommodation options for every budget, be it backpacker or luxury, and you’ll be within easy walking distance of Guanajuato’s best tourist attractions and best places to eat.
For budget travelers, Hostel Casa de Dante is located 165 steep steps above the city but has some of the best views in Guanajuato. Backpackers looking to socialize should check into Hostel Bar & Encounter, where the on-site restaurant and bar serve up drinks and food throughout the night.
If hostels aren’t your style, then one of the best places to stay in Guanajuato is Hotel Boutique 1850, where guests can relax in the spa in the morning and enjoy the views from the rooftop bar in the evening. Other great options include the Edelmira Hotel, which also offers a terrace and spa in a historic building, or the Hotel Indigo Guanajuato, a modern hotel that’s part of the IHG chain.
For more accommodation options in Guanajuato check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 3-Day Guanajuato Itinerary
Guanajuato is a city of museums, and much of your stay is going to be dedicated to visiting places of cultural and historical importance, where you’ll have ample opportunity to delve into the UNESCO World Heritage site’s past.
But this isn’t just a city for history fans, because part of the charm of Guanajuato is exploring the gardens, visiting the Teatro Juarez, and spending plenty of time enjoying alfresco dining on the cobbled streets or a cold beer, a glass of vino, or a cocktail at a rooftop bar.
However, before we get to our Guanajuato itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
SafetyWing offers travel insurance for only about $10 a week, making it a no-brainer to get. You can get a quick, non-binding quote below:
SafetyWing is, of course, not the only option available. Two other popular alternatives are World Nomads and Heymondo.
With that important thing covered, let’s get to this three-day Guanajuato travel itinerary already, shall we?
Day 1 in Guanajuato
The best of Guanajuato can be seen on foot because this is a compact city full of hidden alleyways, narrow streets, and lovely public gardens. For that reason, your first day in Guanajuato is going to be spent on walking tours. You’ll see the best sights in the historic, UNESCO World Heritage-listed old city in the morning and join a musical walking tour in the evening.
Related: 15 Best Things to Do in Guanajuato
Get your walking shoes on, because one of the best things to do in Guanajuato is to join a walking tour of the city. There are lots on offer, and you can sign up on the day by visiting one of the little tourist information booths in the city center or by booking online in advance.
Walking tours generally depart from the Jardin del Union, and you’ll explore both below and above ground as you make your way through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic city center.
If you’re interested in walking and eating, then you can also join a food tour of the city in the morning. You’ll be sampling the best tamales and tacos while learning about the history and culture of Guanajuato.
Alley of the Kiss
Any good walking tour will take you to Guanajuato’s famous Callejón del Beso, or the Alley of the Kiss, but if your tour guide does miss this off the itinerary for any reason, then make sure to visit later.
The Alley of the Kiss has a legendary place in the hearts of Guanajuatans because this extremely narrow and colorful alleyway is at the heart of a local love story. Whether the story is true or not doesn’t matter, but legend has it that the daughter of a noble family fell deeply in love with a man of lesser status.
The lovers would meet on opposite balconies, where the alley was so narrow that they could lean over and kiss, but as with many Mexican tales of love and romance, this one ends tragically.
Musical Tour of Guanajuato
Enjoy a few glasses of wine in the late afternoon or evening before joining one of Guanajuato’s most intriguing tours. Every evening, groups of singing troubadours lead tourists through the city, playing music and regaling visitors with songs and stories of Guanajuato’s past.
Dressed in medieval costumes and armed with trumpets, lutes, and guitars, Guanajuato’s callejoneadas bring life and music to the historic city center. It’s loud and often hectic (and always in Spanish), but it’s a unique way to see the city after dark.
Jardin del Union
After your musical tour, spend the rest of the evening (and night) in Jardin del Union. This is the city’s most well known and central public space, and while you can hang out in the garden itself, the real highlight is the rooftop bars and alfresco restaurants that surround it.
Grab a table outside, order a cold cerveza, and end your first day in Guanajuato in style!
Day 2 in Guanajuato
After exploring the historic city center on your first day in the city, you’ll be delving much deeper into the past on your second day, which is all about the museums and culture. Start with a morning ride on the funicular to see the city’s skyline before visiting the Regional Museum of Guanajuato, the former house of artist Diego Rivera, and – if you’re not museum-ed out – the Don Quixote Museum.
Monumento al Pipila
Start the day by taking the funicular to dizzying heights above the city, where you’ll find the best views of Guanajuato from the iconic Monumento al Pipila.
Standing tall above the city, the monument is dedicated to Pipila, a famous local who helped liberate Guanajuato from the Spanish in the Mexican Wars of Independence in the early 19th century.
The statue is absolutely enormous, but it’s the panorama of colorful Guanajuato below that’s the real winner. Arrive early, and see the city in its misty morning haze from high above.
Next, catch the funicular back down to the city center, or take a leisurely stroll through the winding alleys. Aim for the Mercado Hidalgo, a huge public market that you’ll have spotted from the top of the hill.
The large dome is visible from almost anywhere in the city, but you’ll find it’s still tricky finding your way here through the maze of narrow streets. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by hundreds of market stalls and an incredible (and cheap) selection of local food stands.
Grab a late breakfast or early lunch, and order up tortas and tacos before haggling for a few souvenirs.
Alhondiga de Granaditas
After fueling up at Mercado Hidalgo, it’s time for a trip to one of the best places to visit in Guanajuato. The Alhondiga de Granaditas is the most historic place in the city because this old stone warehouse was the scene of fierce fighting during the Mexican Wars of Independence.
It’s here where Pipila, Guanajuato’s most famous hero, made his name. Pipila helped to open the gates of the warehouse, allowing the rebel Mexican army to storm inside and liberate Guanajuato from the Spanish.
Today, the Alhondiga de Granaditas is a museum (the Regional Museum of Guanajuato) dedicated to telling the story of Mexico’s fight for independence.
Museo Casa Diego Rivera
Next up is a visit to Museo Casa Diego Rivera, a museum and art gallery dedicated to one of Mexico’s most revered artists.
The museum is located within the childhood home of Diego Rivera, where the painter began his artistic career by drawing all over the walls of his bedroom as a three-year-old.
There’s a small collection of Rivera’s paintings on display, and it’s a great place to learn more about the artist’s early life in Guanajuato.
Don Quixote Museum
The third museum of the day is the curious Don Quixote Museum, where you’ll find an extensive collection of memorabilia and books dedicated to the literary icon that is Don Quixote.
The Spanish knight that starred in the famous 16th-century book of the same name by writer Miguel de Cervantes is a star in Guanajuato, so much so that the city holds an annual literary festival in the character’s honor.
The museum contains paintings, statues, sculptures, and rare books that have been collected over decades, all of them linked in some way to Don Quixote.
If you’ve still got energy left in the evening, then one of the best places to visit in Guanajuato is Teatro Juarez. Designed in a neoclassical style in the 19th century, Teatro Juarez plays host to concerts and operas all through the year.
Book tickets for the latest showings in advance for the best seats in the house, and enjoy a truly cultural end to your second day.
Day 3 in Guanajuato
The third and final day of our Guanajuato itinerary takes you a little further afield as you travel into the surrounding hills and take a step back in time at the Valenciana Mine. After a look at the city’s silver mining past, you’ll stop off at the macabre yet fascinating Museum of the Mummies, before spending the afternoon and evening enjoying alfresco drinks and dining to celebrate the end of a packed 72 hours in Guanajuato.
Guanajuato’s UNESCO World Heritage listing is dedicated in part to the city’s silver mining past, and you can learn more about this by taking a trip to the Valenciana Mine.
Located in the surrounding hills, the Valenciana Mine was in operation from the 16th century onwards, and mining only recently stopped. Former miners lead tours into the mine shafts, where you can learn more about the tough and dangerous life of a Guanajuato silver miner.
Museum of the Mummies
After your tour of the Valenciana Mine, stop off at the intriguing Museum of the Mummies on the drive back to Guanajuato. If you’re wondering what to do in Guanajuato in 3 days that’s macabre, then this dark tourist site is definitely for you.
The museum contains the mummified remains of many of Guanajuato’s 19th-century residents, predominantly people who couldn’t afford to be buried in the local cemeteries. It’s a glimpse into the past, and one of the weirdest things to do in Guanajuato.
Take the rest of the afternoon off when you get back to Guanajuato, then spend your last evening enjoying the city’s best restaurants and bars!
Day 4 and Beyond
The third day of our Guanajuato itinerary doesn’t have to be the end of your trip, particularly if you’ve got more time to spend in Mexico’s Central Highlands. In fact, if you love Guanajuato’s colorful streets and rooftop bars as much as we do, then the city is the perfect base for an extended exploration of the surrounding region (And trust us, you can easily spend weeks in Guanajuato!)
From Guanajuato, within an hour and a half, you can be in the equally colorful and artistically minded city of San Miguel de Allende, a place famed for its modern art and impressive pink church. From there, it’s also easy to day trip to Dolores Hidalgo, where the Mexican Wars of Independence began in the early 19th century; to Leon, Guanajuato’s state capital; or to the cities of Celaya, Irapuato, and Queretaro.
Visiting Guanajuato in three days will offer you a charming insight into the unique and colorful history of this colonial city. Perched in the hilltops and surrounded by mountain scenery, a weekend in Guanajuato is often a welcome escape from the hot lowlands of Mexico or the busy streets of nearby Mexico City.
If you’re looking for a cultural and historic getaway, then why not add our Guanajuato travel itinerary to your Mexico bucket list?
Great article on Guanajuato, Richard! For up to the minute info on GTO (covid situation, events and music, expat and foodie scenes, classes and activities) check out http://www.facebook.com/groups/gtomx